THREE firms have been awarded tenders to build 100-megawatt solar plants in Gwanda, a development that will increase the country’s electricity supply.
The State Procurement Board gave the green light to Intratek Zimbabwe, China Jiangxi Corporation and ZTE Corporation to construct the three plants at a cost of at least US$184 million.
Initially, the SPB had awarded China Jiangxi the contract but a decision was taken to award tenders to other “technically compliant” bidders – Intratrek and ZTE Zimbabwe – because they are “willing to match the costs of the lowest bidder to specifications.”
SPB, in a letter to Zimbabwe Power Company managing director Mr Noah Gwariro and dated February 24 said it resolved to put on board Intratek and ZTE Zimbabwe. It said the critical power shortage and its negative effects on economic growth as well as its potential threat to national security was the reason for roping in the other two bidders.
“The accounting officer should engage the two technically compliant bidders namely Intratrek Zimbabwe and ZTE Corporation (Zimbabwe) Ltd for negotiations for additional solar power projects with similar specifications at the benchmark price of the lowest bidder to specification, China Jiangxi Corporation Ltd of US$183 703 238,81 and report to the board post facto,” read part of the SPB letter.
Last year, ZPC, a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings invited bids for the construction of a 100 megawatt solar power project in Gwanda. Tenders opened on July 5 and closed on July 23.
Mr Gwaririo did not return calls seeking comment last Friday while Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire’s mobile phone was not reachable. But Minister Mavhaire once said solar power generation has been identified as one of the ways to address the country’s power deficit and meet some of the targets set under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Social and Economic Transformation.
When contacted for a comment last Friday, Intratrek director Mr Wicknel Chivhayo said he had not yet received official communication from the authorities.
“At my level I am not expected to speculate.However, if given a chance we would be proud to be part of the brilliant; people oriented ZimAsset initiative that talks of development across all sectors. As the first local company that brought the solar farm concept to Zimbabwe in 2012, our vision is to ameliorate the power shortage and create abundant employment by 2018,” he said.
Intratrek Zimbabwe has since been allocated land for a solar farm in Gwanda. It intends to undertake the projects in partnership with Chinese leading power firm Chint Group.
Efforts to get a comment from Chian Jianxi and ZTE Zimbabwe proved fruitless by the time of going to print.
A number of solar projects have been announced across Africa in recent years, but few have been on this ambitious scale. Last year, a United Kingdom firm announced plans to build what it claimed would be Africa’s biggest photovoltaic solar power plant.
The Nzema 155 MW project based in Ghana, will be able to provide electricity to more than 100 000 homes, according to international reports.